Feb 24, 2016

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Lesson 12: THINK ABOUT THE TEACHING OF MASTER GAMPOPA FROM THE SCANDAL OF BO DE (BODHI) PAGODA (Từ sự kiện chùa Bồ Đề suy ngẫm lại lời dạy của tôn giả Gampopa)

Contemplation on “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner”


Merit and wisdom cultivation is a method of spiritual practice in Buddhism, of which wisdom is the key priority of a practitioner. It’s not by chance the Buddha insists on the importance of “considering Wisdom as a career”. Once straying away from this goal, the practitioner might be indulged in doing good deeds to save beings but deep inside of his thought, there arises a desire for fame, for making him and his pagoda well known. From this point on, he is gradually strapped by Antarayika (impediments) from outside and five poisons (greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and jealousy) from inside. Obviously, karmic effect always comes after action! Master Gampopa has therefore warned:” Performing meritorious actions in order merely to attain fame and praise is like bartering the mystic wish granting gem for a pellet of goat’s dung; and this is a grievous failure.”

A mystic wish granting gem and a pellet of goat’s dung is a simile of nearly absolutely high contrast. One should grasp the real meaning of this simile to be able to awaken. In Buddhist suttas, a mystic wish granting gem represents the enlightenment, Dharma attainment, liberation and always presents in the hand of ariyas like Avalokiteśvara and Ksitigarbha Raja Bodhisattva. The Guru Rinpoche affirms that an enlightened guru is like a wish fulfilling gem. According to profound meaning of Buddhist sutras, a wish fulfilling gem stands for wisdom while the monk’s staff (Khakkara) means merit. Merit is one of two collections (merit and wisdom) defined as a luggage on the way to the Pure Land, thus need accumulating together with wisdom.

Merit is turned into “a pillet of goat’s dung” due to the practitioner’s misperception of the merit’s nature which is mistaken as conditioned blessings and virtues that lead to rebirth in realms of human, Deva and Bharma, still within samsara. Meanwhile, merits together with wisdom will be strong wings that fly high in the sky of liberation. Wrong perception leads to wrong practice. This is when he wants to do good deeds such as charity, medication, child adoption or accommodation for the elderly, which are merely a cultivation of merit and virtue that brings about blessings of human and celestial realms.

So what does cultivation of blessings and virtues means? Blessings is a category of happy feeling (body, speech and mind) in the realm of desire which are attained by good karmas. Hence, any practice of any religion of any one of ten good qualities (ten commandments -Dasa kusala) is called cultivation of blessings. Such practice includes worshipping, praying, doing good deeds, avoiding bad deeds, and delivering right speech. These good karmic conducts will lead the practitioner to reborn among the devas (realm of desire). Catholicism, Orthodoxy, Protestantism, Caodaism, and Islamism are seen to cultivate in blessings and virtues. People call it “Way of God”!

These conducts are praiseworthy but unlike traditions of Christianity (God worshipping), the unique purpose of Buddhism is emancipation. Moreover, many practitioners perform good deeds, with partiality and calculation, merely for fame. After gaining a certain reputation, they begin to take them as means of collecting money from kind-hearted visitors or benefactors, “turning in others’ donation as their own”. That money is not used to aid the poor or the disadvantaged but for personal purposes. From here, they start to “serve their self love (Atma-sneha)”. The “pellet of goat’s dung” begins to take the place of “mystic wish granting gem”, accompanied by inevitable consequences.

Recent scandal of Bo De Pagoda is a pain of real Buddhist followers. Local authorities and reporters of Ho Chi Minh City’s Women Newspaper have unveiled a child trafficking ring in this place. Head of the pagoda, Thich Dam Lan, is said to commend childcare work to the babysitters without appropriate supervision and examination of their identity. Until the scandal broke out and Nguyen Thi Thanh Trang was arrested, did the monk plead the “Buddha’s compassion” to excuse her fault. Working with the investigation bureau, Nun Thich Dam Lam just laid the blame on Trang:” I don’t think Trang is such a bad and ungrateful person!” In the mean time, the public says the nun has bought herself a Mercedes and her clan ancestral house in Hai Duong Province is hugely and expensively built. This is why people often have a negative look on Buddhist bihhkus who are taught to live a plain and simple life to practice Dharma, consider wisdom as a career, not to “serve their self-love”!

Lotus Flower Estrade in Song Nguyen Tantra House

Nun Thich Dam Lan and Bo De Pagoda might face a torrent of public anger while awaiting investigation conclusion from the police. Of course the number of donors to the pagoda will accordingly lessen. Then how will the life of adopted children be? The long-built reputation of nun Thich Dam Lan has been destroyed just in one day. It gets worse as people begin to think negatively about the Buddhist clergy, given their taking religion as a screen for their selfish, personal purposes.Other religions start to sneer at Buddhism and find it more favorable for their religious conversion goals, such as into Catholicism and Protestantism. From this view on, the case of Bo De Pagoda is just the tip of an iceberg among many other child-adopted pagodas nationwide. This is the consequence of exchanging a “mystic wish granting gem” with a “pellet of goat’s dung”. One may say if there was no giddy girl who abandoned her unexpected baby at the pagoda; if the local authorities strictly examined child adoption activities in pagodas…, Bo De would not “break precepts” to “save being”? It is absolutely nonsense! No one can oblige the pagoda to adopt children which is in fact the legal responsibility of social support societies, centers for children and elderly sponsor or special houses for the disadvantaged. Pagodas perform only one task taught by the aryias’ teachings that is to learn and practice Dharma. Compassion without wisdom may result in bad consequences!

Imagine a child is not able to learn about the value of a gem and a pellet of goat’s dung but how can an adult, particularly a practitioner, be ignorant of it? No, it’s not! A “pellet of goat’s dung” is covered by aura of fame, radiant color of gold and silver that prevent them to look into its nature, despite the fact that any practitioner has already been equipped with Bodhyanga discrimination. The worst point is that they “trust their mind before get enlightenment.” Flowery words such as “outstanding citizen”, “charitable donor”, “real practitioner”, “a roof for lonely orphans”… is like drops of wine, easy to drink, easy to feel intoxicated. Finally “when, late at night, wine fumes had all cleared off. One’d start from sleep to sorrow for oneself.”

In short, merit and wisdom are two good qualities which need to be accumulated at the same time, in the right orbit of Dharma, driven by the aryia’s teachings and lightened by the “Four Dharma seals”. Practitioners, then, need make use of five theoretical points by Logician Dharmakirti:
1/ Know exactly all objects which need to be dismissed
2/ Know thoroughly methods to dismiss them
3/ Know exactly all objects which need to be practiced
4/ Know thoroughly methods to practice them
5/ Transmit knowledge to students with compassion

Then the practitioner can avoid the mistake the Buddha has warned of: “Worry about the matters unworthy of concern will cause you suffer. Do not worry about the matters worthy of concern will also cause you suffer” (Majjiima Nikaya – Part I).

August 6, 2014
Phuoc Thanh Village
Translated by Mat Hue Phap


The same topic:

Lesson 1: PREFACE 

Lesson 2: The Bitter Taste of the Drug



Lesson 5: To Die of Thirst on the Shore of a Lake


Lesson 7: Contemplation on “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner” – LITTLE BOM AND THE HYPOCRITE

Lesson 8: Contemplation on “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner” – A PARROT SAYING A PRAYER 

Lesson 9: Contemplation on “Fourteen Grievous Failures of a Buddhist Practitioner” – TO WASH A SHEEPSKIN COAT IN PLAIN WATER



Lesson 11: A CAT LYING IN WAIT FOR A MOUSE (Mèo giết chuột)

Lesson 12: THINK ABOUT THE TEACHING OF MASTER GAMPOPA FROM THE SCANDAL OF BO DE (BODHI) PAGODA (Từ sự kiện chùa Bồ Đề suy ngẫm lại lời dạy của tôn giả Gampopa)




  1. thanh thúy says:
    Thưa thầy!
    Con đọc xông bài này rồi ạ. Con cám lơn thầy hôm này cho con thiên bài học nữa
    Con cầu mong sức khỏe và sự trưởng thọ của thầy cô
    Om ah hùm
  2. Mật Ngã says:
    Mật Ngã hoan hỷ với việc dịch bài của Mật Huệ Pháp từ tiếng việt sang tiếng anh, từ những bài viết của Thầy !
    Kính bạch Thầy !
    Đọc lại bài viết này con lại có sự liên tưởng theo một dạng khác, nhưng con không biết có sai không. Nẽu những gì con viẽt chưa đúng xin Thầy chỉ dạy lại để con sửa. Con cảm ơn Thầy!
    Như Đại sĩ Liên Hoa Sanh dạy “Nếu con tìm được vị Thầy chân chánh thì như đang tìm được viên ngọc như ý”. Theo như con hiểu vị Thầy chân chánh tức là đối tượng đúng, tốt để người trò hướng lòng sùng mộ của mình đến Thầy( xem Thầy Phật, Bồ Tát, là bậc giác ngộ) thì mình nhận được ơn phước từ những bậc đó chuyển qua. Vậy thì lúc đó Thầy không phải là Phật, Bồ Tát… mà do tâm sùng mộ của người học trò.
    . Nếu người học trò làm gì cho Thầy hay Đạo tràng… với tâm sùng mộ, tâm phụng sự đạo pháp, tâm chân thành thì những việc làm ấy dù không nhiều lắm nhưng tạo ra lượng công đức lớn, đó mới thực sự là tư lương về Tây phương.
    Nhưng ngược lại
    . Nếu người trò làm bất cứ việc gì cho Thầy hay Đạo tràng với tâm mong được Thầy khen tặng ,đồng đạo đều biết đến…nể phục mình…
    . Dùng thanh danh của vị Thầy làm giá trị ảo cho mình, làm vòng hoa trang hoàng cho bản ngã, tất cả những việc làm đó dù nhiều như thế nào cũng không thể là bồ tư lương về Tây phương. Vì tất cả những công đức đó đều bị đổi thành phân dê, do tâm người trò. Vì tâm người trò quyết định tất cả, nếu tâm người trò là sùng mộ, chân thành thì Thầy trở thành ngọc như ý, có thể đáp ứng, thoả mãn những ước muốn chân chánh của người trò thì chắc chắn có ước muốn thành tựu tâm linh trong hiện đời và giải thoát khi mạng chung. Nhưng ngược lại người trò không có tâm như trên thì Thầy được biến thành “phân dê”, mà phân dê thì đâu thể biến những ước muốn của mình thành sự thật.
    Cầu nguyện cho chúng con không biến đổi ngọc như ý thành phân dê. Om Ah Hum !
  3. Mật Viễn says:
    Mật Viễn hoan hỷ tán thán công đức của đạo hữu Mật Huệ Pháp tinh tấn dịch bài viết của Thầy sang tiếng Anh để ánh sánh chánh pháp tỏa sáng rộng hơn, nhanh hơn đến với chúng sanh.,

    Nhờ đó Mật Viễn đọc lại bài viết của Thầy ( tiếng Việt) để một lần nữa ghi nhớ suy ngẫm tu tập là để tích lũy hai bồ tư lương công đức và trí tuệ làm hành trang về cõi Phật chứ không phải làm cho ngã ái của mình cao hơn, lớn hơn để rồi rơi xuống cõi thấp sâu hơn, lâu hơn.

    Cầu nguyện chúng sanh tỉnh thức với trạng thái giác ngộ.


  4. Mật Diệu Hằng says:
    Dear Mat Hue Phap,
    I really rejoice in your English version of “THINK ABOUT THE TEACHING OF MASTER GAMPOPA FROM THE SCANDAL OF BO DE (BODHI) PAGODA”. Your translation once again reminds me of Master Gampopa ‘s teaching: “Performing meritorious actions in order merely to attain fame and praise is like bartering the mystic wish granting gem for a pellet of goat’s dung; and this is a grievous failure.”
    The mystic wish granting gem is a sort of a magic stone, it’s like a green emerald, which fulfills all the wishes. So either Buddhists take it in a more spiritual way or they take it in a more materialistic way, this mystic wish granting gem means the priceless artifact, a priceless thing and to barter the misting wish granting gem, for a pellet of goat’s dung, basically for a piece of shit, for a small piece of shit, is really a pathetic trade, they have to be not the worst tradesman in the world, they have to be insane, out of their mind totally to make such a trade. And what is the trade, they see the ratio is gigantic and ridiculous and a bit smutty on purpose, like to show the enormity of the mistake. The mistake being performing meritorious actions, in order merely to attain fame and praise in this world.
    What’s a meritorious action? For example in the Buddhist culture of Vietnam, people are making merit by making donations to monks and monasteries that is called creating merit. But if they do that just to attain fame and praise in this world, like take a photo of them as they are offering a donation to a monk, so that they become famous of how charitable they are. Besides, There are so many gigantic charities in which people put their names on front of it, it’s a charity, but it’s a charity made for fame in this world. It is not a detached charity, it is not something done with, like a karma, it’s not a detached action. And then, this actually may produce good karma, but good karma means nothing, because good karma will hold them for a while, if they are making a gigantically good karma, it may hold them even for a million years. And they are still tied in the circle of birth and death, they cannot rise to nirvana.
    The Lord Buddha said: “Those who have passions are never able to perceive the Way; for it is like stirring up clear water with hands; people may come there wishing to find a reflection of their faces, which, however, they will never see. A mind troubled and vexed with the passions is impure, and on that account it never sees the Way. Monks, do away with passions. When the dirt of passion is removed the Way will manifest itself.” (The sutra of 42 sections).
    So performing meritorious actions in order to attain fame and rise in this world, is a double edged sword, because first of all, they perform meritorious actions but selfishly with attachment, like “look at me, I donated a million dollars for the cancer children…” and thus, this is first of all, a thing of gaining karma, which the Tibetan yogis say, sooner or later they will regret having done, it’s going to be fun for a long, long time, then they will regret having done any way. Similarly, the Buddha said, “Moved by their selfish desires, people seek after fame and glory. But when they have acquired it, they are already strickened in years. If they hanker after worldly fame and practice not the Way, theyr labours are wrongfully applied and their energy is wasted. It is like unto burning an incense stick.”
    The second thing is that they actually divert that karma in what their ego wants. But if they still have ego, it is very difficult for them to get the Way as “Those who have passions are never able to perceive the Way; for it is like stirring up clear water with hands; people may come there wishing to find a reflection of their faces, which, however, they will never see.” Moreover, the ultimate goal is to free from suffering and get the ultimate liberation. All spiritual practices in Buddhist are to help Buddhist rise to nirvana, not to live in the circle of birth and death even the life of Gods as The Buddha’s saying: “Just as the great ocean has one taste, the taste of salt, so also this teaching and discipline has one taste, the taste of liberation.”
    To get liberation, the Buddha suggests his followers “considering Wisdom as a career”. In Maha-parinibbana Sutta: Last Days of the Buddha, he said:
    “They who have bridged the ocean vast,
    Leaving the lowlands far behind,
    While others still their frail rafts bind,
    Are saved by wisdom unsurpassed.”
    Wisdom is the best boat which helps Buddhists come to nirvana under the teaching from Guru: “In the tantras, it is said, “The guru is the buddha. The guru is the dharma. The guru is the glorious heruka. The guru is everything.” Nevertheless, in spite of the perfection and completeness of our guru’s qualities, whether or not we receive our guru’s blessing depends entirely upon our own attitude. The attitude we need is such that we actually view the guru as the embodiment of the Three Jewels; we think that the guru’s body is the Sangha, his speech is the Dharma, and his mind is the Buddha. We view the guru as the embodiment of the Three Roots, inclusive of the gurus—roots of blessing; the yidams—the roots of siddhi; and the dakas and dakinis—the roots of activity. We regard our guru as the overlord of all buddha families and all mandalas. And this attitude is one‑hundred percent genuine; simply trying to convince yourself of that or faking it is not going to help. If we have that kind of attitude, we will definitely receive the guru’s full blessing and by receiving that and by that alone, we will achieve the fruition of this path.” (From a teaching on Life of Guru Rinpoche by Bardor Tulku Rinpoche given in Seattle, WA, in April 2009. Translated by Lama Yeshe Gyamtso, transcribed by Linda Lee, copy-edited by Basia Coulter)
    Thus, in the masterpiece of 50 Verses Of Guru Devotion, master Ashvagosha affirmed: “(By studying the prerequisite trainings of Guru-devotion and the Graded Path, common to both the Sutra and Tantra,) you will become a (suitable) vessel (to hold) the pure Dharma. You may then be given such teachings as Tantra. (After receiving the proper initiations,) recite out loud the fourteen root vows and take them sincerely to your heart.” And even in sutra for example, it is described that “Any bodhisattva who has a Guru will never fall into lower realms. Any bodhisattva who is protected by a Guru will never be lured by negative companions, or unbecoming companions. Any bodhisattva who is, like somebody is your protégé, you raise them. So any bodhisattva who is raised by a Guru will never fall back from the Mahayana, from bodhichitta. And any bodhisattva who is held by a Guru will definitely overcome and reach above the bhumi of an ordinary sentient being, will be uplifted from an ordinary sentient being to an enlightened one.”
    Thank you so much for your wonderful translation!
    May all your wishes come true.
    May our Guru and consort live long for the sake of all sentient beings.
    May all sentient beings free from the suffering and its cause.
    Om Mani Padme Hum.
  5. Mật Tuệ Phúc says:
    Kính bạch Thầy!
    Con đã đọc bài này ạ!
  6. Salvatore Antonio Fois says:

    Venerebol GURU;

    My name is Tantra Siramitra.

    I read the article and I found it very interesting thank you very much venerebol.



    • Mật Diệu Hằng says:
      Kính bạch Thầy!

      Con xin phép dịch comment của đạo hữu Tantra Siramitra (Salvatore Antonio Fois) sang tiếng Việt như sau:

      “Kính bạch Thầy tâm linh tôn quý!

      Con là Tantra Siramitra.

      Con đã đọc bài viết này của Thầy. Con nhận thấy bài viết hay và sâu sắc.

      Con chân thành cảm tạ ơn Thầy tôn quý. 

      Om Mani Padme Hum. 

      Con đảnh lễ Thầy.”

  7. Tantra Mahavita says:
    Querido Amado Guru . Muchas gracias por compartir estos interesantes articulos. Agradecemos a nuestro Guru profundamente . El Guru es el Buda. El Guru es el Dharma . El Guru es Todo. El es la encarnacion de las tres Joyas .El Cuerpo del Guru es Sangha , su discurso es el Dharma y su mente es el Buda. Consideramos a nuestro Guru como el Señor Supremo de todas las familias de Buda. Que el Guru tenga salud y pueda vivir muchos años para beneficio de todos los seres sintientes. Que todos los seres esten libres de sufrimiento y sus causas. Que todos los seres encuentren la felicidad y sus causas. Que todos los seres vivan en ecuanimidad ,libre de apego y aversion . OM MANI PADME HUM
  8. Tantramikaya ( Jane) says:
    dear holy guru. Thank you for your article and the explanations. I understood the article as follows. Kindness is the benevolence shown to all living beings (humans as well as animals), the perfect identification with all living beings, which concentrates on the neighbor alone without putting the ego in the foreground. Metta is for us the selfless and comprehensive kindness to all living beings and therefore different from love in the sense of affection. Practicing charity should always be our ultimate goal and enriching knowledge. Through our dedication and our desire to follow the Buddhist path, we can achieve enlightenment. Every little but good deed should be for the good of all. may our holy guru and his consort live long for the sake of all sentient beings. May all beings achieve the happiness of Buddha s nature. Om Mani Padme Hum
    • Mật Diệu Hằng says:
      Kính bạch Thầy!

      Con xin phép dịch comment của đạo hữu Tantra Mikaya  (Jane) sang tiếng Việt như sau:

      “Kính bạch Thầy tâm linh tôn quý!

      Con cảm tạ ơn Thầy đã viết bài và luận giảng. Con xin được trình bày sự hiểu của con sau khi đọc bài như sau:

      Lòng nhân ái là tâm từ đối với tất cả chúng sanh (kể cả loài người hay loài vật), và lòng nhân ái đó được thể hiện thực tế nhất thông qua cách đối xử của chúng con với những người sống gần gũi với chúng con mà không dựa trên nền tảng bản ngã. Tâm từ rèn cho chúng con lìa xa cái ngã và có được lòng nhân ái đối với mọi chúng sanh, do đó nó khác hoàn toàn với luyến ái thế tục.

      Thực hành các hoạt động từ thiện nên luôn vì mục đích giải thoát tối thượng và cần được trang bị tri kiến Phật đà. Đó là sự tận tâm của chúng con cũng như mong muốn được thực hành theo con đường Phật pháp để đạt được giác ngộ tối thượng. Thực hành ít nhưng tập trung vào chánh hạnh còn hơn là thực hành nhiều thiện hạnh.

      Con cầu nguyện Thầy Cô trụ thế lâu dài vì sự lợi lạc của tất cả chúng sanh. 

      Cầu nguyện tất cả chúng sanh thành tựu hạnh phúc của Phật tánh. 

      Om Mani Padme Hum. “

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